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Vernacular EloquenceWhat Speech Can Bring to Writing$
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Peter Elbow

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199782505

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199782505.001.0001

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Good Enough Punctuation by Careful Reading Aloud and Listening

Good Enough Punctuation by Careful Reading Aloud and Listening

(p.275) 14 Good Enough Punctuation by Careful Reading Aloud and Listening
Vernacular Eloquence

Peter Elbow

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how careful reading aloud yields punctuation that is at least good enough, even for the grammar-based rules. It argues that most punctuation mistakes come from paying too little—rather than too much—attention to the voice, and that carefully spoken language gives us a better window onto meaning and intention than we get from grammar. It also contends that understanding the rules of punctuation and the principles of grammar they rest on will eliminate all errors in punctuation. The chapter illustrates the argument by focusing on the rule about the use of the determiners that and which. It also stresses the importance of training the voice and the ear to the reading aloud technique, along with the difference between casual everyday speaking and careful reading aloud. Finally, it presents examples where reading aloud succeeds and fails and discusses the death and rebirth of languages worldwide.

Keywords:   reading aloud, punctuation, voice, spoken language, grammar, determiners, training, everyday speaking, languages

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